NFL Nation: Jeromey Clary

Like most other NFL organizations, the San Diego Chargers are a team that builds and maintains its roster through the draft. General manager Tom Telesco doesn’t necessarily put any more value on securing impact players through the draft, versus trade or free agency.

But annually selecting rookies that can make an impact on a team’s roster is important, particularly when you consider the player will be under the team’s control for at least four years, likely at an inexpensive salary.

So getting detailed medical evaluations and vetting players through the intense interviewing process are the most important things for teams this week at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. Of the 53 players that finished the season on San Diego’s roster, 23 were secured through the draft, compared to 27 free agents, two through trades, and one claimed off waivers.

The Chargers have seven original picks in this year’s draft, one in each round beginning with the No. 25 overall pick. So they will be paying close attention to the more than 330 players invited to this year’s combine.

Along with evaluating draft prospects, Telesco will have an opportunity to meet with middle linebacker Donald Butler's representation as the Chargers try to get him signed to a multi-year deal before he hits free agency next month.

Here are five things to keep an eye on regarding the Chargers.

1. Physical cornerbacks who can turn and run: A major area of need for San Diego is improving the overall talent and depth at cornerback. Last year’s top free agent signee Derek Cox likely will not be back after being supplanted in the starting lineup by Richard Marshall. San Diego’s 2013 fifth-round selection Steve Williams could work into the conversation at corner in 2014. The Cal product sat out his rookie year after suffering a torn pectoral muscle during preseason play. But the Chargers need to add a couple physical corners who can cover -- through the draft, free agency or trade. Some names to keep an eye on include Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, Ohio State’s Bradley Roby and Florida’s Loucheiz Purifoy. Those players stand out to me because of their length, athleticism and playmaking ability.

2. Edge rushers needed: The Chargers have several veterans at this position, but you can never have enough athletes who can rush the passer. And San Diego struggled at creating consistent pressure, particularly on third down. Three guys potentially available on Day 1 of the draft who could make an impact include Missouri’s Kony Ealy, BYU’s Kyle Van Noy, and Auburn’s Dee Ford.

3. A run-stuffing defensive tackle: San Diego gave up an average of 4.59 yards per carry on defense in 2013, No. 29 in the NFL. Cam Thomas started the most games at defensive tackle, but will be a free agent in March. Sean Lissemore finished as the team’s starter at the end of the season, but needs to add some bulk to effectively fill this position. San Diego could certainly use a two-gap defensive tackle to control the middle of the defense, similar to Dontari Poe in Kansas City. Potential candidates in the draft include Notre Dame’s Louis Nix III, Minnesota’s Ra'Shede Hageman, and Penn State’s Daquan Jones.

4. Improved interior offensive line depth: With center Nick Hardwick contemplating retirement and veteran guard Jeromey Clary a potential salary-cap causality, the Chargers need to add some depth to the interior of the offensive line. Mississippi State’s Gabe Jackson and Stanford’s David Yankey are the top rated guards in this year’s draft. And USC’s Marcus Martin could be the long-term answer for a team at center.

5. Add a couple explosive playmakers: San Diego could use some help in the return game. Keenan Allen should not be the team’s main punt returner. He’s too valuable on offense. And the Chargers could use someone with some juice in the kick return game. Washington’s Bishop Sankey, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, and Oregon’s De'Anthony Thomas makes some sense because of their ability to create explosive plays on offense and in the return game. Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers needs a few more weapons on offense to make his job easier, and all three of these players would fit the bill.
SAN DIEGO -- Running back Ryan Mathews was not on the practice field for the early portion of practice on Friday, the first time he’s missed a Friday practice since suffering an ankle injury against Oakland three weeks ago.

Mathews
Mathews’ absence is not a good sign for the San Diego Chargers, who need the bruising running back available to provide balance offensively.

Mathews ran for 127 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown, in a 27-20 win against Denver in December. If Mathews can’t go, Danny Woodhead and Ronnie Brown likely will split carries at running back for San Diego.

Mathews appeared to tweak his ankle against Cincinnati last week. He carried the ball only one time in the second half of San Diego’s 27-10 playoff win against the Bengals.

Along with Mathews, guard Jeromey Clary (shoulder) and receiver Eddie Royal (toe) are not practicing on Friday.

The Chargers did receive some good news, with center Nick Hardwick (concussion) clearing the NFL’s concussion protocol and returning to practice on Friday. Hardwick had a helmet and went through individual drills with the first-unit offensive line during the early portion of practice, while Clary watched on the side.

Right tackle D.J. Fluker (ankle) also practiced for a second straight day.

OLB Jarret Johnson still out

November, 13, 2013
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SAN DIEGO -- The line to the training room is getting longer for the San Diego Chargers.

Johnson
Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson, who missed last week’s game against Denver with a lingering hamstring injury, remains out. Also not participating in the early portion of Wednesday’s practice were fullback Le'Ron McClain (ankle), left tackle King Dunlap (head/neck) and center Nick Hardwick (neck stinger).

With Dunlap and Hardwick unavailable, the starting offensive line working together during individual drills included D.J. Fluker at left tackle, Johnnie Troutman at left guard, Rich Orhnberger at center, Chad Rinehart at right guard and Jeromey Clary at right tackle.

Outside linebacker Melvin Ingram remains on the physical unable to perform list and was an observer at practice. New addition outside linebacker Adrian Robinson was at practice and is wearing No. 99.

Offensive lineman Mike Remmers also practiced for the first time since suffering an ankle injury against Jacksonville last month.

OAKLAND, Calif. -- It’s not uncommon for first-year coaches to have the type of see-saw season the San Diego Chargers are currently experiencing under Mike McCoy.

At 2-3 after a disappointing 27-17 loss to AFC West division rival Oakland, the Chargers have yet to win or lose two in a row through five games.

In order to develop into a championship-caliber team with sustained success, McCoy understands his team has to do the little things. And that means the Chargers can’t turn the ball over five times and expect to win.

The Chargers can’t have a 37-yard field goal blocked. Good teams don’t fail to recover a fumble defensively deep in their opponents’ territory.

Playoff teams get into the end zone on fourth-and-1 from the other team’s 1-yard line. Good teams don’t fall behind 17-0 to a team they’re favored to beat by five points.

Good teams aren’t lucky; they create their own luck. And if San Diego wants to be considered a good team, then the Chargers need to win the games they are supposed to, like the one they lost to Oakland on Sunday night -- even on the road.

“We’re a good football team,” McCoy said. “You’ve just got to keep playing, and that’s what we’re doing. You’ve just got to keep playing and keep going. Don’t worry about one play -- one score. That’s why you play for 60 minutes.”

Moral victories are for weak-minded people. The NFL is a bottom-line league, and if you have more losses than wins over a few seasons, you likely will not be in the league long.

So even though the Chargers rallied from a 24-3 deficit in the fourth quarter to actually have a chance to tie the game at 24-17 with a little over 10 minutes left, the fact is the Raiders dominated play on both sides of the ball for a majority of the contest.

“I’m not going to make excuses, if that’s what you’re looking for,” San Diego offensive lineman Jeromey Clary said. “We’re all pros here. And we’re expected to perform at a high level.”

The Chargers have experienced leaders on both sides of the ball who know what it takes to win in the NFL, including quarterback Philip Rivers, center Nick Hardwick, tight end Antonio Gates, safety Eric Weddle and outside linebacker Jarret Johnson.

[+] EnlargeMike McCoy
Howard Smith/USA TODAY SportsThe Chargers have yet to string together consecutive wins under new head coach Mike McCoy.
And they have some emerging young talent, including receivers Keenan Allen and Vincent Brown, defensive tackle Corey Liuget and linebackers Donald Butler and Manti Te'o.

However, this team has yet to develop a consistent blueprint to winning that allows them to reel off a streak of four or five wins in a row.

“No excuses, we got beat tonight,” McCoy said. “We came out, and we were outplayed in all three phases. It was tough to go on the road and turn the ball over the way we did and win a football game on the road against a good team.

“Too many big plays -- but it all starts with just executing the system that’s in place. There was a lack of execution. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us, but we just have to keep working.”

Rivers had a September to remember, but a game to forget opening up the month of October. He threw for over 400 yards for a second straight game, completing 36 of 49 passes for 411 yards and three touchdowns.

But Rivers also had three costly interceptions, after throwing just two interceptions in the first four games.

Like the rest of his teammates, Rivers knows he has to perform consistently at a high level for this team to develop into a consistent winner.

“Certainly as an offense, when you turn it over five times, you’re not going to win usually,” Rivers said. “You very rarely overcome it, and then we found ourselves down 24-17 with 10 minutes left.

“That doesn’t make us feel any better. There was a lot more than just turnovers, but certainly on offense, we’ve got to make sure we don’t turn the ball over.”
SAN DIEGO -- Chargers middle linebacker Manti Te’o is expected to make his regular-season debut on Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Notre Dame product made it through a week of practice as a full participant after missing the first three games due to a foot injury, and is listed as probable on the team’s injury report.

Te'o
However, San Diego coach Mike McCoy stopped short of saying the rookie definitely will play on Sunday.

“He’s had a great week of practice,” McCoy said. “And it’s been great for him to kind of get back out there, and get into the flow of things. So it’s looking good today.”

For his part, Te’o says he’s ready.

“I get to play with my guys, so I’m excited,” Te’o said.

If he plays, one of the questions Te’o will face is how he performs once the opening whistle blows. Conditioning could be an issue. The Chargers attempted to replicate game speed in practice, but things always move a tick quicker once a player is on the field.

“I could go out here and play hoops against these other coaches, but if they’re going to throw me in some live action down there at San Diego State, I think it’s going to be a shock to me, first of all, because I ain’t that good,” joked defensive coordinator John Pagano. “Game speed is always going to be faster than anything else. So that’s something he’s going to adapt to very quickly.”

Fellow linebacker Donald Butler said he’s anxious to see what Te’o can do.

“It means a lot, obviously,” said Butler, who’s also probable for Sunday after practicing fully all week. Butler’s dealing with a groin issue. “They brought him in here to be an impact, and play with me. And we had a good week of practice. So I’m excited to see him go out there to see what he can do.”

While Te’o returns, the Chargers likely will be without three starting offensive linemen when they take the field against a talented Cowboys’ defensive front.

Left tackle King Dunlap (concussion), left guard Chad Rinehart (toe) and right guard Jeromey Clary (clavicle) did not practice all week, leaving their availability in doubt for Sunday.

Dunlap is listed as questionable on the team’s injury report, along with cornerback Shareece Wright (hamstring). Rinehart and Clary are listed as doubtful. Center Nick Hardwick (shin) is probable. Receiver Malcolm Floyd (neck) has been ruled out.

With those three out, the Chargers are looking at a projected starting five of Mike Harris at left tackle, Johnnie Troutman at left guard, Hardwick at center, Rich Ohrnberger at right guard and rookie D.J. Fluker at right tackle.

Recent addition Stephen Schilling also could be in the mix at guard. And McCoy also could move a big body like tackles Nick Becton, Kenny Wiggins or Andrew Tiller up from the practice squad.
No matter what five guys line up on Sunday, offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said he’ll have his group ready to go.

“Let me say this: they have a good front and are playing well together,” Whisenhunt said, when asked about the Cowboys defensively. “It’s never easy. We have different guys that we’re not exactly sure where it’s going to shake out for Sunday. There’s not much we can do about it. We’re still going to play. We’re still going to kick off at 1pm. We just have to prepare our guys the best we can and know in that situation we’re going to battle. Our guys have done that. They have battled, so that’s what we’re expecting to do on Sunday.”
SAN DIEGO – Even after practice ended, Manti Te’o still wanted more work.

So while teammates exited the field, Te’o focused on form tackling and explosion with a tackling pad.

Te'o
“You guys should get a picture of that,” fellow linebacker Bront Bird told a line of photographers as he walked to the locker room.

Inactive for the first three games due to a foot injury, Te’o was a full participant in practice for the first time since suffering the injury in the team’s first preseason game. He appears ready to play in his first regular-season game on Sunday.

“That’s the goal,” Te’o said. “So once coach [Mike McCoy] gives me that green light, I’ll be ready.”

Te’o said the hardest part has been putting in the work on the practice field during the week, only to have to watch his teammates go out and play on Sundays without him.

“Sundays are the time to have fun,” he said. “You do all your work throughout the week during practice, you get all of your mistakes out and you grind during the week. And Sundays are that celebration at the end. So I finally get to go out there now.”

Right guard Jeromey Clary said he suffered a clavicle injury during the opening quarter against Tennessee, but played through it in part because the Chargers didn’t have anybody else to put in. Left tackle King Dunlap and left guard Chad Rinehart also had left the game with injuries, leaving San Diego with no backup offensive linemen.

“I didn’t feel great,” Clary said. “But I was still able to go, so I finished it out. At times maybe there were things that I couldn’t do as well as I wanted to, and it was evident on my part – I don’t know if anyone else noticed. But I wasn’t happy with what was going on. But it was the best thing to do.”

Clary said he is day-to-day, and he doesn’t know if he’ll play on Sunday.

“I’m going to go home and get some rest,” Clary said. “Hopefully I’ll sleep really good tonight, and we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Along with Clary, Dunlap (concussion) and Rinehart (toe) did not practice. Center Nick Hardwick (shin) was a limited participant in practice, as was pass-rusher Dwight Freeney (not injury related).

Full participants for the Chargers included Te’o, middle linebacker Donald Butler (groin) and right tackle D.J. Fluker (concussion), who returned to the field after missing last week’s game.

Receiver Malcom Floyd (neck) and cornerback Shareece Wright (hamstring) also did not practice. After meeting with doctors to evaluate Floyd’s situation on Tuesday, McCoy said the team still is figuring out the right plan of action.

“We have a good idea what’s going on with him,” McCoy said. “But we’ve just got to make sure we’re doing exactly what’s right for him and his situation. And we’re looking for him to get back out here as soon as he can.”
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray is really high on the San Diego Chargers’ interior offensive line.

The trio of left guard Chad Rinehart, center Nick Hardwick and right guard Jeromey Clary have been quite good so far at giving quarterback Philip Rivers time to work.

Casey
“When you watch them on film, (the interior line) is like a fortress for him and he’s standing back there, and if no one’s getting close, he’s making all the throws,” Gray said. “...The last two games, they’re not letting anyone come in there.”

But the Titans' top interior rusher, Jurrell Casey, doesn’t necessarily see things the same way.

“I’ve been looking at them, they’re decent," Casey said. “I wouldn’t say they are anything different than the other players that we’ve played against so far. Coaches are going to do what they do, pump them up, pump them up. But I look at every guy the same, they’re just another person in front of me. There should be no reason we don’t get push up the middle.”

If the Chargers' interior line plays the way Gray says its played, the Titans will need consistent pressure from their edge rushers: Derrick Morgan, Akeem Ayers and Kamerion Wimbley.

There could be a weak spot at right tackle.

San Diego's rookie starter D.J. Fluker missed Thursday’s practice with a concussion. His backup is Michael Harris, a second-year player who came into the league undrafted out of UCLA.
Now that the San Diego Chargers seem to have their five starting offensive linemen figured out, ESPN’s Matt Williamson thinks they should get creative.

The Chargers solved an offseason-long need at left tackle by signing former Pittsburgh starter Max Starks. While Starks is not a long-term answer (the Chargers will likely try to address the position more permanently next year via free agency or the draft), he does complete the starting offensive line. The unit has been subpar for the past two years because of major injuries.

The Chargers used their first-round pick, No. 11 overall, on D.J. Fluker. He is expected to play right tackle. They signed Chad Rinehart in free agency; he is expected to start at left tackle. Former right tackle Jeromey Clary has the early edge over 2012 draft pick Johnnie Troutman, who was injured all of last season, at right guard. Longtime anchor Nick Hardwick remains the constant at center.

Williamson has other ideas San Diego might want to try.

He would move Starks to right tackle, use free-agent addition King Dunlap at left tackle and move Fluker to right guard.

“That way you would have one great player this year on that line in Fluker,” Williamson said. “I think he can be a Pro Bowler at right guard. I think he will struggle some at right tackle. He will have trouble sliding and dealing with speed rushers. At right guard, he can move ahead and smash people, which are his strengths.”

Williamson thinks Starks, who has played right tackle, can be successful on the right side, and that Dunlap can be a suitable short-term answer at left tackle. Dunlap can also play right tackle.

It’s an interesting concept. I get the idea of putting a player like Fluker where he can best help.

Even if the Chargers keep the current plan, I do think the unit is improved. That's not to say that, as a whole, it is above average -- there will still be work to do next year. But San Diego can get by with this group.

What is important is the Chargers’ offensive line is much deeper than it was in the past. In addition to Troutman, the team has youngsters in Troutman, David Molk and Mike Harris and free-agent pickup Rich Ohrnberger. If the line suffers massive injuries for a third consecutive year, it will be in better shape than in the past.
While the draft signifies new beginnings in the NFL, it also means the end of the road for some veterans who will be replaced by the newly-selected player. Let’s take a look at one player from each AFC West team who could see his job in jeopardy this summer.

Denver Broncos: Willis McGahee, running back. The Broncos selected Montee Ball in the second round and would like him to become a primary back. They also want him to have a big role along with 2012 third-round pick Ronnie Hillman, who is more of a change of pace back. McGahee is coming off a knee injury and he is 31. While he may be in Denver’s short-term plans, I’d think this will be his final season.

Kansas City Chiefs: Tony Moeaki, tight end. I’m a big Moeaki fan and I think he could be outstanding. He was terrific as a rookie in 2010 but had problems staying healthy. I think the Chiefs are open to having Moeaki in their plans, even though they drafted Travis Kelce in the third round. The NFL is a two tight end league now. While the Chiefs did sign Anthony Fasano, he is 29 and he won’t be around forever. There can be a place for Moeaki, but I also think the Chiefs’ new brass doesn’t think it can count on him. He must stay healthy and produce right away.

Oakland Raiders: Khalif Barnes, right tackle. The Raiders took offensive tackle Menelik Watson in the second round. He will likely push Barnes right away at right tackle. Barnes re-signed this offseason, but he is the type of player teams try to upgrade from. Watson has big potential and if he performs quickly, I can see him replacing Barnes early in his career.

San Diego Chargers: Jeromey Clary, right tackle. The Chargers drafted D.J. Fluker with the No. 11 pick and he will be the new right tackle. Clary will be moved to guard and he will be given a chance to fight for a job. I’m not sure what his chances are but Clary’s days as the Chargers’ right tackle are over.

Earlier Thursday, there was speculation that new the San Diego regime would get antsy and trade up to get one of the top three left tackles.

I thought that wouldn’t be a great idea and that the Chargers have many needs and should keep their picks. Apparently, they agreed.

Fluker
But it probably wasn’t easy. The Chargers, who have major needs on the offensive line, watched the top five offensive linemen go in the first 10 picks. They then took Alabama tackle D.J. Fluker.

Fluker is massive at 6-foot-4, 340 pounds. He was a dominant player at a dominant school.

While he can play guard, Fluker will probably replace the replaceable Jeromey Clary at right tackle.

Fluker is a great run-blocker, and he will help this team. He gives quarterback Philip Rivers a big, tough protector. Of course, left tackle is still a need.

Perhaps San Diego will fill the hole on a temporary basis with Bryant McKinnie. They have been interested in him.

The Chargers’ offensive line is still a work in progress, but there is no doubt it got better with the addition of the monstrous Fluker.

He is the first offensive lineman San Diego has taken in the first round since 1986. That is the longest such streak in the NFL.
Three teams in the AFC West have questions at right tackle and thus, all are surely talking notice that Atlanta has cut Tyson Clabo.

Clabo is considered an above-average player and he is particularly strong in run blocking. Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego all have questions at the position.

I think Clabo be a better fit in Kansas City or San Diego than Oakland. He is a zone-blocking player. Both the Chiefs and Chargers will run, at lead, some zone-blocking schemes. Oakland is moving away from a zone-blocking scheme.

San Diego is considering Eric Winston, who was cut by the Chiefs. He’d replace Jeromey Clary, who is considered a replaceable starter; the problem for Clabo in San Diego may be money. Winston would likely come cheaper. The Chargers haven’t paid a bunch of money this offseason and they could be reluctant to pay for a player where they already have a starter while they have other needs.

Kansas City’s situation is up in the air. If they keep Branden Albert, they may take Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher at No. 1 and make them the right tackle. If Albert is dealt, Joeckel or Fisher would play their natural spot, at left tackle. Also, the team signed Geoff Schwartz to compete with Donald Stephenson at right tackle if the hole exists during camp. Clabo would be a big upgrade. But the Chiefs are nearly out of money after filling many holes this offseason.

While Clabo would fit in the division, finding the perfect fit may be difficult.

 
When the Kansas City Chiefs cut right tackle Eric Winston last week, the San Diego Chargers seemed like a natural fit for him.

The Chargers apparently agree. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Winston visited San Diego over the weekend. If signed, he would replace Jeromey Clary.

Winston would certainly be an upgrade over Clary. The Chargers are making major changes on the offensive line and have more pressing needs at left tackle and at guard.

But adding Winston would help. The Chargers are interested in adding some zone-blocking schemes and Winston is adept in the scheme.

He is also a popular player in the locker room and he’d be a strong positive influence on San Diego. It will be interesting to see if this visit leads to anything.

Meanwhile, U-T San Diego reports the Chargers are also interested in Jacksonville cornerback Derrick Cox. The Chargers are expected to be players for cornerbacks in free agency.
After keeping four key players in the past two days, the new regime in Kansas City shed a big name in a move that could have an effect on the No. 1 pick in April's NFL draft.

The Chiefs cut right tackle Eric Winston on Wednesday night. His signing last year by the previous regime was considered a coup. He was particularly good in run blocking last season, but struggled some in the pass offense. His release saves a reported $3.5 million as the Chiefs march toward free agency.

Monday, the Chiefs signed two impending free agents, receiver Dwayne Bowe and punter Dustin Colquitt, and gave left tackle Branden Albert the franchise tag. Defensive end Tyson Jackson redid his deal Tuesday to stick with the team.

By jettisoning Winston, the Chiefs have a hole at right tackle. They have options, though. They could use 2012 third-round pick Donald Stephenson there. They could sign a veteran, or use the top overall draft pick on Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher.

Those two are considered left-tackle prospects; their chances of going to Kansas City decreased when Albert was given the franchise tag. But with an opening now on the right side, one of the two (Joeckel is the bigger possibility) could be moved to the right side, then to left tackle if Albert doesn’t sign a long-term deal. Albert has no intentions of playing on the right side.

I’m not totally sold on the idea of taking a player at No. 1 and moving him to right tackle. But I think the Chiefs are totally open-minded about the pick, and this is one option. I think they want to trade the pick, but if they keep it, they will take the best player. If that means moving Joeckel or Fisher to the right side, that will be the case.

This move clearly caught Winston by surprise. He recently expressed excitement about the opportunity of blocking for new Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith. In the end, Winston will be remembered for a verbal outburst. Winston ripped some Kansas City fans for booing quarterback Matt Cassel when he was injured in a game; his comments made national news.

I think Winston, 29, will get some opportunities. He could be a nice fit in San Diego if the Chargers want to replace Jeromey Clary. The Chargers are expected to make major changes on the offensive line. I could even see Winston being a fit in Oakland and Denver in the right circumstances, but if he stays in the AFC West, I’d say San Diego makes the most sense.

Fixing Chargers starts on O-line

February, 7, 2013
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The San Diego Chargers have started 2013 on the right foot by hiring general manager Tom Telesco and head coach Mike McCoy. Both men are considered among the best young, promising people in their position.

The fresh philosophy is a good start, but the Chargers need to replenish their talent. It starts on the offensive line. The Chargers have been ravaged by injuries and bad luck on the offensive line. Fixing the unit is the top priority of the offseason.

Let’s take a look at who the San Diego offensive line shakes out:

Tackles: The left tackle position is the Chargers’ greatest need. Jared Gaither was signed to a big contract last season, but he can’t be counted on because of injury concerns. The Chargers will almost certainly move away from him. Finding a left tackle will be a top priority either in free agency or with the No. 11 pick in the draft. Right tackle Jeromey Clary isn’t a top level right tackle, but the Chargers can get by with him. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if the team tries to find a better option.

Guards: Starters Louis Vasquez and Tyronne Green are both free agents. Vasquez is a priority. Green is an average starter. Keeping Vasquez is needed, and then the Chargers can make a decision on Green. But upgrading there would be beneficial.

Center: Nick Hardwick is still a plus player. He is 31, but he is a solid starter along with Vasquez.

The team has a chance to improve, but getting better protection for quarterback Philip Rivers is paramount, starting at left tackle and perhaps, at least, one more starting spot on the line.
Nothing personal against Charlie Whitehurst, but the San Diego Chargers might want to think about sending him out at quarterback Sunday at Pittsburgh.

Why subject starter Philip Rivers to such potential punishment given the team's 4-8 record?

The plan is to finish the season with Rivers, but he won’t have much protection Sunday. According to U-T San Diego, the Chargers are likely to be without three starting offensive linemen: Tackles Mike Harris (ankle) and Jeromey Clary (knee) and guard Tyronne Green (hamstring) are not expected to play.

Kevin Haslam replaced Clary and Rex Hadnot replaced Green, but there is no clear replacement for Harris’ spot. The team will work out some linemen this week. Not knowing Rivers’ blind-side protector six days before the game is unsettling to say the least.

Harris replaced Jared Gaither, who is on injured reserve. The Chargers had immense injury issues on the offensive line last season, too. They hoped this year would be different, but this situation is a mess.

Meanwhile, linebacker Donald Butler is expected to miss his second consecutive game with a groin injury.

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